The Bent Zealots MC 1: A Dangerous Reality by Layla Wolfe

Title :  A Dangerous Reality          Word Count : 81,000

Genre : Dark Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : TURK. My club sent me to track him down. And when my mission was over, I never wanted another one again. When I found him, I kicked the crap out of Havelock Singer. I issued the mightiest beatdown of all time. Problem is, we’re evenly matched. We’re equals in every way, and when we finished whaling on each other, exhausted, we fell into each other’s arms.

I’ve never regretted it for an instant. It’s been the ride of my life. But loving another man in the MC world is a risky business. As if our business isn’t already brutal and ruthless enough, Lock’s homophobic sergeant-at-arms Stumpy gets an eyeful of our lovemaking and blackmails us into doing some of his dirty work, or be exposed for what we are—a couple of deviants.

This run into the Indian reservation is sleazy and beneath us, but now I’m cornered, and I’ll do anything to keep my sweet Master from being lynched by his club.

LOCK. When that kingpin Carmine Rojas got a load of my beautiful stallion Turk Blackburn, he’d stop at nothing to have him—and Rojas gets what he wants. It’s my fault we’re in this situation. I should’ve kicked Turk’s ass and sent him packing back to The Bare Bones. I wasn’t even close to being ready to come out, but now they’re forcing my hand.

I can hear my destiny calling me. Either I’ll slink back to my club like a hetero bounty hunter with no morals—and no respect from anyone in my own backyard—or I’ll step up to the plate and be the lion of the day.

Either way, my lover and I are screwed. Our clubs are going to hound us underground or into another country before we escape this mess—if we don’t die trying.

“Living off the grid and being an outlaw brings a dangerous reality.” –Ron Perlman

Publisher’s warning: This book is not for the faint of heart. It contains scenes of gay sex, consensual BDSM, illegal doings, dubious consent, and man-on-man violence.

My Review :   Turk and Lock start out as enemies and rivals from opposite motorcycle clubs. They have a big slap down drawn out fight when Turk recognizes Lock as the guy his cheating ex was having a tryst with in the back of a club. Turk feels betrayed and hurt by his boyfriend. All those feelings come to the fore when he sees Lock again. It is clear that they are evenly matched. There is an underlying sensuality during their fight that somehow reveals to them the thin line between hatred and passion. Their erections definitely expose their need for each other. Being the tough bikers that  they are and being in the company of other homophobic bikers,  they walk away. It is not long before they meet again. When it becomes obvious that someone from Lock’s group the  Assassin’s is infringing on Turk’s product,  they end up working together. Their passion ignites and they just can’t seem to resist each other as much as Lock denies that he is gay.

At times I felt as if I needed a biker’s dictionary to truly decipher what was being said. I liked the book, I just think that it would have been a whole lot simpler and more enjoyable without all the excessive slang and lingo to deal with. The darkness and the brutality of both characters was somehow tantalizing,  it kept me wanting more. I really liked how Turk was a power bottom, he did a whole lot of topping from the bottom. I really enjoyed Lock’s dirty talk, he is definitely crude and not everyone will appreciate his personality. Each man is exactly what the other needs in their life. Lock’s resistant nature is just what Turk needs. Turk enjoys cajoling and luring Lock who adamantly professes to be straight to the dark side .  

 Things become treacherous for them when they are found out by the vindictive sergeant of arms Stumpy who seem to have it out for Lock.  Before they can admit to themselves or each other, how special they are, Stumpy’s nefarious plans gets deeper. They become embroiled in a  mess which involves a drug cartel kingpin who seems fixated on Turk. Turk tries to go along with the kingpin’s plan to save their lives , but he finds out how truly in love he is with Lock when his body fails to respond sexually.

When they are let go, it becomes clear to both men that they would do anything to be with each other. A plan starts forming in Lock’s mind when he comes across another gay biker Ormond  who doesn’t belong to a club because of his sexuality. After dealing with their enemies,  they resign from their respective motorcycle clubs and welcomed the birth of their own gay motorcycle club, the Bent Zealots. This is raw and gritty and the perfect kind of love to showcase the passion these big , burly bikers have for each other. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.  

Tutti Fruitti Rudi by Stephanie Franklin

Title :  Tutti Fruitti Rudi              Word Count : 61,950

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb :

My Review :  Rudi Costa has always felt that his life is going down Shit’s Creek and he is left without a paddle. He has no marketable skills and he had to drop out of high school to provide for the one person who loves him unconditionally. His sister Penguin is five, but she is at the level of a three year old because their mother is a heroin addict. Rudi steals and prostitutes himself in order to put food on the table. He has to lock Penguin in their room so that the men who his mother whores herself for, can’t touch his beloved sister . Their mother is a waste of space who only thinks of her next fix. When she gets behind in her payments to her drug dealers, she pimps out Rudi to pay for her debts by threatening to take Penguin away.

 When Giovanni,  the biggest drug dealer collects from Rudi, it is always painful. Giovanni is a pig of a man, who loves rough sex. He brutalized Rudi’s most sensitive areas for hours without any lubrication at all. Poor Rudi can barely  walk when he is done. He is walking through the park from one such arrangement when he finds a young man who has been gay bashed. It is obvious to see that Jay doesn’t belong in this part of the neighborhood.

Jay’s family invites Rudi over for dinner as a thank you. Jay’s father David  doesn’t seem to like Rudi right off the bat. After a lavish dinner where Rudi sits uncomfortably wondering about his table manners, he bolts as it becomes clearer that they are from two separate worlds. Rudi starts ignoring all of Jay’s texts. It isn’t until Rudi’s mom kicks him out with his little sister, that he sees Jay again. Jay swoops in like an avenging Angel and gets his family to care for  sweet little Penguin temporarily.  Rudi makes a more pronounced effort to sort his life out so he can take care of his sister on his own. 

Giovanni and Rudi’s mom get there just desserts when Rudi steals their drug money. It is not an ideal plan , but he decides to make the most of a bad situation. Rudi rents an apartment and set it up so that Penguin has her own space. Jay and Rudi decide to celebrate and take their relationship to the next level after a night of teasing and touching at a dance club.

It is at this point that I felt like I  was dropped off a cliff unexpectedly.The novel just left off at this point and I felt that there were a whole lot of  unresolved issues.  I was left feeling very unfulfilled. I think it could have been fleshed out by a few more chapters and it would have blossomed into a great novel. Rudi is that tortured character  who is very lovable and you  can empathize with him. I give this my ratings of 3 –  it was ok , give it a try. 

West Coast Boys 2: King of Rain by Michele Fogal

Title :  King of Rain              Word Count : 75,921

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Being uber-tall and broad made it easy for Logan to hide his sexuality and vulnerability behind armor made of strength, ambition, and emotional detachment. His mask of macho success was shattered when he discovered the friend he’s carried a secret torch for has a boyfriend, and everything he’s always wanted now belongs to someone else. Logan can’t pretend not to care anymore, as his rage erupts in a horrible act of revenge. It’s impossible to hide his demons, now that they’ve broken loose.

Since losing his sweet boyfriend, Jeremy’s loud and proud life of sex parties and clubbing feels empty. When he meets the dark and self-destructive Logan, Jeremy recognizes the demons he sees in Logan’s eyes. After all, he has plenty of his own.

Logan isn’t looking for love, he’s looking for punishment and release, but with Jeremy all three seem momentarily possible… until he learns his victim was Jeremy’s lost love. Logan doesn’t expect forgiveness and knows he doesn’t deserve a real life, but after a taste of intimate closeness, finding salvation alone will mean he has to change, or die trying.

My Review : This was a very interesting read for me. Who would have thought that you could take two hated characters and fuse them together and turn them into something totally beautiful. The two main characters are having their own version of a sexual identity crisis. Jeremy is reevaluating himself after some hard truths are revealed about his personality by his ex Skyler. After cheating on Skyler and breaking his heart, he is now ready to reignite the flame that they once had. Jeremy feels utterly rejected when Skyler tells him that he has moved on and is in love  with his new boyfriend Ryan. Skyler sees through his ploy and accuses Jeremy of being a cold lover who doesn’t let anyone get close to him. It takes Skyler saying all these things to make Jeremy realize that he uses sex as a shield and uses his sexuality so freely with so many guys  that no one guy can become attached.

 Jeremy tests this theory with a quick hook up with a fellow jogger in the park. The experience leaves him feeling so cold and worthless. He finally sees what Skyler saw in him and it is not pretty. Jeremy sees how meaningless his interactions have become and it causes him to feel brittle. His roommate Kodi seems to be the one constant thing in his life and he reiterates some of the same things that Skyler pointed out. Kodi is a big bear of a man who is rather gentle and he cuddles Jeremy whose sense of self has been shattered. He offers him the strength hoping that he will accept the truth and be more of a better person.

When we meet our second main character Logan, it is obvious to see that he is filled with rage and self anger. He deals with this by cutting,  this form of self harm helps him to feel calmer. Logan is also seeing a therapist,  but it is very hard for him to open up.  He is being forced to go to the therapist by his parents who recently found out that  he  almost sexually assaulted a young man. Logan doesn’t identify as being gay , but he’s had jerk off sessions with his best friend Ryan who happens to be Skyler’s boyfriend.  When Ryan rebuffed Logan’s  attention,  he decides that it’s all Skyler’s fault and decides to teach him a lesson. He goes over to Ryan’s house and attempted to force Skyler to give him a blowjob. Ryan is just in time to foil his plans. Needless to say,  their friendship has been irrevocably changed. 

Jeremy goes out clubbing but the environment feels so much colder now that he has gotten in touch with a part of himself he has tried to deny. He is just about to give up trolling,  when he sees him. There is something about the big guy with white blond hair that seems familiar. Soon he realizes that he has seen this guy on either Skyler or Ryan’s Facebook page. He quickly snatches Logan out the door. There is something about Logan that calls to something in him. Logan is a bit hesitant,  but he goes home with this stranger. With his cuffs and his whip, Jeremy demands Logan’s submission. He forces him to accept and let go of some of the wrongs he has done. Logan realizes that he has gained a sense of freedom that he has never known. Jeremy allows him to become in tuned with his body and acknowledge that there is nothing wrong with getting pleasure from the unexplored territories of his body that he associates with being gay. They both exorcize their demons with Jeremy taking care of Logan and Logan accepting himself for who he truly is. Logan recognizes that although it might seem as if Jeremy has the upper hand in their interactions,  they are both being vulnerable and scared together. Jeremy teaches Logan about his body while Logan teaches Jeremy to open up his heart.

After their first night together, they decide to become exclusive  boyfriends.  A little bit soon, but probably just what they both needed. They both have inner demons that feed off each other and seems to make them both stronger as individuals. Logan starts owning his sexual identity and he comes out to his father and he sets the rumour mill aflame when he takes Jeremy to one of his football games. They take baby steps and ease into things gently. They have a prolific need to become immersed in each other’s lives. This is how Logan ended up going clubbing with his boyfriend and meeting Jeremy’s friends/ fuck buddies. While they are there, they run into  Skyler and Ryan and it is definitely not a happy reunion.  It is disastrous and forces Logan to flee when he’s faced with the broken bonds of friendship that he had with Ryan and Skyler’s fear of him.

Logan acknowledges the monster living inside him that has damaged not only his friendship, but which can be blamed for the discord between him and his family. He decides  once and for all to vanquish that part of himself by comitting suicide. He sends off an email apologizing and explaining his actions to his former best friend Ryan and goes to the canyon to do the deed. When he gets there, he decides that he wants to live, he just wants that destructive part of himself gone. He immersed himself in water and he comes up feeling like he has been baptized and his sins washed away.

Logan comes  home to find all the people who have loved or cared for him at some point in his life in his living room. Judging by the state he is in , it is clear to see what happened. They all come to conclusion that there are quite a few bonds that need repairing in this group. Logan’s family and Jeremy decides to go to a therapy session with him. It is very overwhelming and enlightening for Logan who now understands that you can’t look at your ‘self’ as being one dimensional. We all have to embrace all our ‘selves’ and shape them into a cohesive community within our bodies that works for each individual.

It was Skyler who truly helped him to put things in perspective when he sent him a link to a video by Sara Bareilles called Brave. It was very insightful because it allowed Logan to see that even when you think you are a freak, be brave and own it. I’ve always thought that we are all messed up in some way and sometimes we hide our tortured souls under our flesh. We just have to compartmentalize and accept all facets of ourselves; it is what truly makes us unique. I really enjoyed these characters who are flawed and will have to keep on working on their ‘selves’ and their love for each other. I give this my ratings of 5 –  not only because you will want to lose the underwear, but it is such a profound issue that we all struggle with at times,  Our Self Identity . 

Blackwater Falls : Plan B by Shannon West & Susan E. Scott

Title :  Blackwater Falls : Plan B       Word Count : 44,582

Genre : Paranormal  Gay Romance

Blurb : Life was going fine for Camron MacKay. His plan to marry a nice girl, settle down and have a couple of kids seems to be right on track—until the mating urge hits the cougar shifter on one dark of the moon night. He soon realizes that the only mate for him is the gorgeous, young, hard-drinking, wild-as-hell Travis Sutherland. Camron tries his best to roll with the punches. He tries to explain to Travis how things will be. He’ll be the boss, Travis will straighten up and quit his irresponsible ways and together they’ll try to find a way to work things out, even though legend says no two clan males could ever live together without killing each other. But while Travis is perfectly willing to have a little fun with the handsome Camron, he has absolutely no desire to settle down and refuses to even consider Camron’s plans for the future. That’s when Camron decides he has no choice but to fall back on Plan B.

My Review :  Travis Sutherland  is a young cougar shifter who is spiraling out of control.  At 21 yrs old, he has recently had his first shift and has been creating havoc for his cousin Sheriff Hawke Sutherland. Despite the advice of the sheriff,  Travis keeps on getting drunk, doing drugs and keeping bad company with the clan rival Holden Mackay. Travis is a spoiled mama’s boy who seems to have no sense of purpose for his future.

Camron  Mackay is a hard working guy who is all about taking care of his family. He is straight and looking  forward to start his life with a nice young lady and have a few kids. Needless to say,  he is very surprised when his cougar takes over and mates Travis. It is very unusual for for two male shifters to mate , because they are too dominant. This makes for some really hot sex scenes between these two. Camron is determined to be the more dominant one in the relationship and he fights Travis until he submits to him. It  causes conflict between the two men as Travis feels belittled and like he is being treated like a girl. Camron doesn’t know how to treat his male partner because he is used to the softer side of women.

Camron has to try really hard not to let Travis walk over him . He is determined to get Travis out of the spoil pampered mode that everyone is susceptible to.Camron and Travis start bonding a bit when Travis shows his silly playful side. Things start to go downhill, when family members start to interfere in their relationship. Thus far Camron has been sexy and dominant, but that soon turns into overbearing when he insults his mate by calling him lazy. They have a heated argument and a lot of hurtful words are exchanged. Travis is left devastated and walks out of Camron’s life without being stopped. His heart aches and he feels all the worthlessness that his reputation proclaims.

The fork in the road might have deadly consequences for  Travis when he stumbles upon trespassers intent on their own nefarious plans. As soon as Travis leaves, Camron realized that he made the biggest mistake of his life. He feels like he is missing a limb. When he hears shots fired, he knows that he is about to lose the other half of his soul. Travis gets hurt and Camron goes crazy and kills two of the men in self defense.Travis is rescued successfully by Camron  and the help of  Hawke and company. Their reconciliation is sweet and their relationship is on the mend. Also,  It was great to see Hawke and Jace’s relationship still flourishing. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

Kiss Me by Scarlet Blackwell

Title : Kiss Me                Word Count : 73,817

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Dexter is a rent boy falling for his new client. Logan is a homicide cop falling for his rent boy. Now madly in love, Logan discovers Dexter is dangerously in thrall to a gangster whose clutches he can’t escape. When the gangster finds out about the two of them, he targets Dexter’s friend in revenge. The quickest answer is a safe house, but how long will it be safe?

My Review : There are some relationships that are just destined to fail from the very beginning. From the moment Dexter Anderson first met Logan Maden he knew he was in trouble. Dexter has made his living and become somewhat successful by being a high class prostitute. He has his own website and a nice clean hotel room he rents from his friend Michael. Logan is a cop, a detective in fact who seems to have intimacy issues. Dexter is very wary at first, having this illicit illegal arrangement with an officer of the law. 

Dexter soon realized that Logan is everything that he could have wanted and then some. There is a certain innocence and naiveté surrounding Logan and this is endearing to Dexter. Dexter is very attracted to Logan, more than he’s ever been to any of his customers. He finds himself wanting things from Logan, that someone in his profession has no hope at attaining. Logan is very hesitant and distant in their interactions,  but after a few months he starts to open up. Dexter is weak and always so turned on with Logan that he ends up breaking one of his cardinal rules, no kissing. The first time they kiss , Dexter feels himself plunging into the unknown. He tries to keep himself aloof and jaded, but Logan’s kisses rejuvenates a part of him  that has been dormant.

Logan starts pushing for a relationship  and Dexter keeps on pulling back. He is afraid that his life of prostitution will sully Logan’s innocence. Also, there are unsavoury characters in his life that promises to hurt the people who Dexter loves the most. Dexter’s friends beg him to seek help from Logan when Ivan a known hit man continuously hurts him physically. He doesn’t heed the warnings and then it becomes too late.

A tragic story unfolds when Ivan goes to Dexter’s house in a jealous rage and Ivan kills Ennis, his best friend’s fiancé. It is such a heartwrenching set of events and  Dexter shoulders the blame, as well as he should after so many repeated warnings. His best friend Daron who is out of his mind with grief blames him. Logan does some finger pointing of his own, while tampering with evidence so that Ivan can be put away for life. Logan knows that a person’s lifestyle plays a big part in how they are seen by the jury. He is trying to make sure that Dexter’s prostitution doesn’t cause any further repercussions. 

After a hit is put out on Dexter and Daron, they are moved to a safe house. Logan becomes embroiled in the case after he kills a dirty cop to protect  Dexter. His innocence is under the microscope and everybody’s life is turned upside down with no hope of a happy ending. The evidence is looking very dismal for Logan’s  plight when the trial starts. He becomes very bitter when he is left standing by himself with harsh accusations being thrown at his character. Logan starts doubting their love and outright blames Dexter for the whole mess.

Some relationships are too toxic to survive. So many lives have been irrevocably changed and there is no coming back from certain actions. Logan ended up killing Ivan , because of his love for Dexter. Is it really love though, when it destroys someone so completely? Logan ended up in prison and Dexter did a stint  in a mental institution. 

 It’s twelve years after the fact and everyone is still standing like stagnant putrid water. Daron is still grieving Ennis, Dexter hasn’t had the will to move on with his life or become attached to anyone. He is a shell of his former self. When Daron reveals to Dexter that Logan is getting out, he has a bit of a downward spiral. So much loneliness,  desolation and regrets make for a bittersweet reunion for the two men. They have a lot of soul deep purging of anguish and broken dreams that they need to get out. They have a happily ever after. 

I’m not sure how to feel about this one, because I don’t believe that love can conquer all. As bad as I feel for Dexter, I really do believe that he was at the root of all this chaos which ensued and reigned over so many lives.  I think that the others payed a far higher price for his mistakes and to me that is not forgivable. I give this my ratings of 4 – because there are truly flawed characters in real life and even though I don’t believe in their everlasting love,  it’s enough that they believe. 

Shawn’s Law by Renae Kaye

Title : Shawn’s Law             Word Count : 66,628

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Shawn is single, twenty-nine, the full-time carer of his Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, and a frequent victim of Murphy’s Law—although his family calls it Shawn’s Law. Other than caring for mum, his day consists of painting nude men and spying on the guy who walks his dogs along the street every day at four o’clock. When Shawn takes a spectacular fall on his front steps, who is there to witness it other than the man of his dreams?

Harley doesn’t believe in Shawn’s Law—but he soon changes his mind.

The two men make it through a memorable first date and Shawn’s sexual insecurities to begin a relationship stumbling toward love. But when Shawn’s Law causes Harley to be injured, Shawn is determined to save Harley’s life the only way he knows how—by breaking up with him. Not once, but twice. Throw in a serial killer ex-boyfriend, several deadly Australian animals, two dogs called Bennie, a mother who forgets to wear clothes, an unforgiving Town Council, and a strawberry-flavored condom dolly, and Shawn’s Law is one for the books.

My Review : Shawn is famous in his community,  but not for the reasons one would expect. Shawn is extremely accident prone and anything that can go wrong at any given time will definitely happen to him. He is a very sweet,  lovable guy who has his plate full with taking care of his mother who has advanced alzheimers. Shawn is unaware of his own assets and charm.  He doesn’t understand why a hottie like Harley would ever give him the time of day. Harley has definitely noticed Shawn and he has made it hid point of duty to walk his dogs past Shawn’s house everyday.

Harley and Shawn meets officially when Shawn wipes out ass first on the pavement at his feet while looking for his mother who has escaped yet again. Harley is kind enough to point out that she is dancing naked under the sprinklers. Shawn is mortified,  but it’s nothing new. Their relationship develops overtime over a series of mishaps. Mishaps or not , Harley is definitely interested in Shawn. He just has to make Shawn believe it too. Shawn hates the fact that he is so accident prone and tries to break up on more than one occasion with Harley . 

It takes him awhile but  he eventually realized that Harley is in it for the long haul. Harley sees Shawn as being very precious and he loves him and takes care of him like no other. Shawn and Harley had great chemistry in and out of the bedroom .  This was hilariously funny and overall a sweet read. Renae Kaye has become one of my favorite authors.  I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

Secrets 1: Secrets and Ink by Lou Harper

Title : Secrets and  Ink               Word Count : 38,119

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : If life was like the movies, Jem Mitchell’s wouldn’t be such a mess. In LA’s glittering world of dreams, he works an unglamorous job at a gourmet grocery store. His past is so deep and dark, the details are lost even to him. All he knows is he was once cursed by a meter maid, and ever since, his love life has sucked.

When Detective Nick Davies becomes a regular at the store, Jem dares to hope he’s un-hexed at last. He should have known that sex with a remarkably normal guy, devoid of weird fetishes and fatal personality flaws, was too good to be true.

During a post-encounter cuddle, Nick recognizes the tattoo on Jem’s back—and remembers him as a young hustler he arrested nine years past.

As Jem’s memories come crashing back, he flees from Nick, but fate contrives to keep pushing them back together. And when Jem’s old partner in crime is found murdered, the stakes are raised for life, for love, and a dangerous drama with no guarantee of a Hollywood ending.

My Review : Grocery store clerk Jem believes that his life is cursed. He has had  constant bad luck in his relationships and it is not uncommon for weird things to happen to him. For instance , he got crushed by a dilapidated house when he tried saving a cat.  Every morning he wakes up , he is on pins and needles waiting for something bad to happen. That’s why when he meets the hunky cop Nick and starts flirting with him, he knows nothing can come of it. He really likes Nick  though, so when the cop asks him out, he agrees with bated breath.

Everything goes well on their date and Jem starts to feel really comfortable with Nick. After a few more dates, Jem goes home with Nick with high expectations.  He is definitely not dissapointed.  They have a super hot make out session,  but while they are cleaning up Nick notices a familiar  spider tattoo that he had seen on a hustler that he busted years ago. It seems like Jem’s wild past is about to take a bite out of his ass. Jem is embarrassed when he recognises that Nick is indeed the cop that busted him for prostitution when he was seventeen. He runs away and tries to push Nick out of his mind. 

Someone is trying to get Jem’s attention by leaving mementos of his ill-spent youth. A half naked picture where he is giving a blowjob to a movie star  is left for him in his mailbox. Shortly after that, he ends up as a suspect after his ex is murdered. Nick tries to protect him as best as he can by moving him into his house. They slowly build up their relationship  and open up to each other. Jem asks Nick to share his deep dark secrets with him and is quite surprised that Nick is into  Japanese rope play.  Jem is very turned on and impressed with Nick’s Kinbaku and Shibari techniques. It makes him hot to know that Nick is in total control of his body.

The mystery of Jem’s past unfolds and his life is in danger when he is kidnapped by a deranged psycopath. Nick is very happy when he finds Jem unharmed and the threat to his life is eliminated. Nick suggests that they try living together as a couple and Jem accepts. I give this my ratings of 3 – it was ok, give it a try.